by John Elford


In a class of its own


My first car was a Renault R8, painted French Racing Blue with a white stripe down the side and a black ‘Crinkle” roof.

No electric windows, no power steering, no radio , no air-conditioning, in fact not much as standard equipment. As far as I recall it did have disc brakes up front that were power assisted and I fitted a removable radio . This was in 1971 and the car was a 1964 model which cost me all of R600. This does not sound much, but when you were earning R96 net after tax and deductions it was quite a lot of money. Petrol cost a approx. 7c per litre, so to fill the R8 it cost me about R2.80. Wow,have things changed?

Although an entry level R8 with a 1000cc engine, it could still reach 120km/h with ease. Looking back though I am not sure if I would travel at that speed today considering the biscuit size tyres-most likely re-tread’s-fitted to the car.

Zoom forward 44 years and climb into the latest Renault Megane GT. This bad boy has features that most much more expensive cars do not have as standard.

Firstly the looks-French flair at its best, the Megane certainly turns heads and is described as sensuously stylish by Renault. This is enhanced by the front LED daylight driving lights and the large Renault diamond on the black grille.
Available in three models, the GT Turbo 162kw the GT-Line Turbo 97kw and the base Dynamique 81kw. We tested the 162kw version.

Fitted with a host of standard features including anti submarining airbags, ABS with EBA (emergency Brake Assist) andElectronic Stability Control.Cruise control with a speed limiter as standard. The on-board GPS also features the speed restrictions on a particular stretch of road and indicates by means of a flashing speed restriction sign whether or not you are travelling above or below the speed limit.

Other features featured as standard include dual-zone climate control, as well as finger-tip controls behind the steering wheel. We found this a little disconcerting until we got used to them, as they are hidden from view. Bluetooth connectivity as well as a USB port, auto locking and rear park assist all ensure the driver experience is exceptional.

The Megane GT Turbo 162kw delivers exceptional performance in a sophisticated package. The top of the range model features unique bumpers as well as dark grey door handles and side mirrors. 18”alloy wheels compliment the looks of the model as does the GT insignia on the boot-lid and below the diamond emblem on the grille.
Leather/fabric seats also reflect the GT badge, and the Sport dash cluster and dashboard integrated grey line finish of the overall effect of sportiness.

On the open road is where the new Magane really comes into its own. The 162kw 2 litre engine is responsive and is a pleasure to drive. Although the manufacturer claims a top speed of 240km/hr, travelling along the freeway at 100 or 120km/hr is an absolute pleasure. The chassis designed from the Megane Renault Sport (RS) with its specific suspension settings ensures the driver is in total control even in tight mountain passes as well as on the open road. Large 320mm front discs as well as high-performance tyres are featured in this model and ensure surefooted stopping when required.

Fuel consumption is kept to a modest 7.3l/100km and is helped with the stop/start functionality when travelling in town.

Overall the new Megane GT is in a class of its own. Along with a 5year/150 000km and 5yr/90 000 Service Plan, this is definitely a car that needs to be considered if looking for a new car in the R300 000 price range.

It certainly has come a long way since the original R8 model.

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